We flew down to Jacksonville for the 5 day bahamas cruise, hoping for a nice, warmer weather break in January. The ship was returning from dry dock. We started receiving messages from Carnival the night before that the ship's return would be delayed, and the embarkation time would be later. Since we flew down the same day, we did not have a hotel, so we proceeded to the airport. Carnival made arrangements to carry large tour busses of guests to a local mall, with a rotating hourly pickup. So we caught a movie at the mall.
We chose the earliest return back to the airport, and we were lucky to be given tickets to be on the first shuttle from the airport to the cruise port (which was now projected to be around 7 pm instead of early afternoon. The transportation arrangements went smoothly, and we were taken to the cruise port on schedule, where we waited in the port building with hundreds of others. We were among the first to board the ship, at around 8:30 pm. At that time, the buffet was open so we had dinner. Other people waited until nearly midnight, especially those who had driven private cars to the port. After the ship was finally loaded and underway, they announced that they would prorate the fare and give everyone back one night of the original cost. They also made up the time, even though we left 12 hours later than expected.
Our cabin was E90, on the Empress deck. It was the nicest cabin we have had on any of our cruises, with a balcony. The central location in the middle of the ship minimized any feeling of movement. Our cabin stewart was efficient. The first at-sea day we had rain, so we went to the fitness room. This is quite nice, with good equipment and windows that look out over the bow of the ship.
We ate two nights in the Sensations dining room, where we were assigned for "our time" dining. Overall, the menu did not impress us. The Atlantic Salmon was tasty, and a Pasta Siciliano was good. My husband had a fried seafood platter that was not satisfactory. Lobster bisque and stuffed mushrooms were disappointing, but a roma tomato salad was good -- it was just inconsistent. So we ended up eating in the buffet on the Lido Deck for quite a few meals. Similar entrees were served there as were in the dining room. The salad bar is the best feature, with lots of variety, fresh veggies, and different sides. The theme of the buffet food changes daily (Caribbean, American, etc.) and there is no shortage in amount, but the quality is just OK. They also have a Grill and a Pizza station. We discovered after several days that the Grill has awesome sandwiches (Reuben, pastrami, turkey, etc.). Out on the deck by the pool, there is a Mongolian grill. Breakfast options were OK, always eggs (a little watery) and different meats, and there were a variety of desserts, also just OK.
We spent some time at the casino, but did not attend any of the other sales, art shows, etc. They had an excellent musician in the atrium in the evenings. I enjoyed the fruity "Cruiser" drink in particular. We took advantage of the chance to take one bottle of wine onboard for each of us, and enjoyed that on the balcony.
We chose not to spend much on shore excursions this trip. In Freeport, we took a taxi to the Radisson Grand Lucaya resort (tell the taxi to take you to Port Lucaya Marketplace). This area is away from the (somewhat industrial) port. Cross the street from the market and stop at the guard booth for directions. They charge $15 per person for the day, and you have the full use of all of their lovely pools (two infinity pools, a lap pool) and beaches. The only thing that is not included is the towel -- so bring your cruise ship beach towel. In Nassau, we walked to Junkanoo Beach. It is nothing fancy, but it is a strip of sand within walking distance. It started to shower so we headed back to the ship before long. We sat up in the stern of the boat, on the Lido deck (outside the buffet) where we had a gorgeous view of Nassau harbor when the sun came back out. There was free wifi in the port building in Nassau. I ended up paying for the on-board wifi (something like $29.00 for 45 minutes) so I could check in occasionally.
So the trip achieved our goals of getting away and getting in a little sunshine. The housekeeping was pretty good and we did not have to wait much for them to make up the room. The food was not exciting. The cabin was wonderful. Overall, Carnival was responsive to concerns, from the refund for the late departure to the folks at the guest services desk.